Trivia Teaser: Will You Still Need Me; Will You Still Feed Me…When I’m Sixty-four?

Question: True or False: Airline pilots may not pilot an airliner in the United States once they have passed their sixtieth birthday.

Answer: False. Airline pilots with a license issued by the FAA may not. However, under International Civil Aviation Organization regulations, airline pilots from more than 180 countries can fly into the United States until they reach the age of 65. (More than 40 countries have increased their pilot retirement ages to 63 or 65.) It’s actually not that simple, however. According to Barry Schiff, the well-known aviation author, columnist for AOPA Pilot (and a retired airline pilot himself), some countries permit it but carriers from those countries may or may not be permitted to land in certain others. (So it would be a number most likely well under 180.) For years, the Air Line Pilots Association has supported the age-60 rule (despite grass-roots lobbying by pilots seeking to change it), although in September 2004, ALPA’s executive board voted unanimously to begin a thorough review of its position on the rule. ALPA’s policy on the rule won’t affect the rule itself though, which is mandated by the FAA. The FAA has proposed raising the retirement age for air traffic controllers from 56 to 61, to help stem the anticipated shortage, but no such shortage yet exists for pilots.